Monday, August 19, 2013

Is Google the Internet?

The dependence of the world on Google has been widely acknowledged but how much real influence Google has on the Internet is difficult to measure. A glimpse of the magnitude was given last Friday when Google services were “disconnected” for a few minutes. According to web analytics firm GoSquared, worldwide internet traffic dipped by a stunning 40 per cent during the brief minutes that the Google services were offline. I have seen it happening to individual Google services, which normally goes unnoticed, but it is the first time outage happened on such a large scale.

There is good news and bad news in this story for all Internet participants. In particular, if we leave aside the obvious questions about implications of storing data and reliance on services in the cloud, the next important issue is whether Google is the Internet or... not quite yet. If what happened leads to the conclusion that yes, Google is the Internet, then we all have no choice but to play by Google rules (ie. don’t do anything that will get us penalised and banish form Google’s “circle of influence”). But it would be a sorry state of affairs for all us non-conformists…

However, it could also be argued that the event provides the evidence to the contrary. This in turn would allow to conclude that there is a glimpse of hope for those who do not like to play by Google rules - it demonstrates that the part of the Internet not controlled by Google is big enough to allow the luxury of having a total disregard for “Google antics”. There is quite a crowd of people engaged in that part of the Internet: using alternative search engines (like Bing or duck duck go - which is gaining quickly in popularity), using alternative email (I must admit, I always used Yahoo and find their new email better than Gmail), using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. social media rather than Google+, using alternative map services, cloud services, blog services and myriad of other convenient tools that are not controlled by Google. That world is thriving if you care to venture there!

It is needless to say that the best outcome for individuals and organisations is if you play nicely with Google (ie. when you must, like for example, to generate search traffic to your site or get access to certain unique service offerings) but also explore other parts of the Internet that give you freedom of doing things your way.